Two Nigerian journalists covering the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) were kicked, dragged on the ground, threatened with cocked guns and forcibly detained for two hours by officers of the South African police in Johannesburg on Tuesday afternoon.
Debo Oshudun, Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) for Central and Southern Africa and John Joshua Akanji, a Deputy Editor of The Sun Newspapers were onboard a taxi on their way to cover the departure of the AFCON winners Super Eagles when shortly after they both alighted, they were surrounded by no less than 20 fully armed South African police officers who threatened to shoot them after they insisted they were Journalists.
The duo, who narrated their story to SportingLife, were grateful to God for sparing their lives.
“I thank God we are still alive because we could have been shot, knowing the type of (extra-) judicial killings in South Africa. I have never been in that situation in my life. I was dragged on the floor, kicked and brutalised. I and John Joshua-Akanji were disposed of our phones, my keys and we couldn’t contact anybody. We were detained for two hours and I was really traumatised throughout the time the police dealt with us and still imagining it up till now.
“The police claimed that they stopped our car because the taxi we were in had a number plate with two different characters. Immediately they stopped us they removed the number plate. They lied that they had been trailing us,” Oshundun told SportingLife in Johannesburg on Tuesday afternoon.
Joshua-Akanji had to miss his South African Airways flight due to the torture he received from the South African Police.
The Sun Newspaper Deputy Editor also narrated his ordeal to SportingLife in Johannesburg yesterday.
“I was in a trance. I thought I was acting out a movie. I never thought it was for real. I have never seen a thing like this in all my life. But I am happy to be alive to tell the story”, the visibly shaken journalist disclosed. 20 policemen, who had already cocked their guns and pointed them to my head and my colleague Oshundun’s, were shouting ‘I will shoot you, I will shoot you. Who are you? Do you think you are special? I will blast your brains off’”, Joshua-Akanji revealed.
Lieutenant Colonel M. F. Tshabalala station commander, Sandringham Command South African Police Service, SAPS, later apologised for the treatment meted out on the Nigeria Journalists.
It took the intervention of the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg to secure the release of both men. There are no indications yet, if the Journalists will press charges against the South African Police.
The two journalists however commended Hope, the South African taxi driver for daring his country’s police by rising to the defence of the Nigerians. “These men are responsible journalists that have come here to cover the AFCON. They are like brothers to me. I ate and dinned with them. They have been wonderful to me as a South African. Why are you treating them this way? It’s not fair! it’s not fair!”, Hope is said to have cried out while the policemen were brutalising the Nigerians.